Don’t Be Stupid, Tips For A College Freshman

This post comes from Eric at Narrow Bridge Finance as part of the Yakezie blog swap. This week’s topic is “Best Tip for College Freshman.” You can read my post on the same topic at Eric’s blog.

When I think of my freshman year at college, I have many fond memories and can think of many important lessons. I don’t think there is any one single tip that would have made my first year of college incredibly different, but I have a few tips that would have been very helpful.

Learn to Budget and Keep a Budget

You don’t have mommy and daddy to watch your spending and many of you will not have them topping off your bank account anymore. Learn how a budget works and keep track of your budget.

Between beer, pizza, restaurants, parties, snacks, clubs, and other miscellaneous expenses, your first year of college can get expensive fast. Make sure to take advantage of your meal plan and watch where you spend.

Do Not Get a Credit Card for Free Pizza

The laws have changed and credit card companies can’t market to college students as they did back in my day, a whole eight years ago, but that doesn’t mean financial institutions will not pray on your naivety.

Credit card companies gave away free pizzas, t-shirts, and other freebies to get students to sign up for a credit card that could end up costing thousands. If you want a pizza, spend five bucks on a pizza, don’t get a new credit card or bank account.

Have Fun, But Study Hard

You are at school to be a student, the fun parts are just a perk. Do not forget that. I knew far too many people who focused on beer pong, flip cup, and other intramural sports when they should have focused on calc, bio, chem, finance, accounting, or [insert class here].

Do not get kicked out, do not have your parents bring you home, and do not spend the next three years trying to fix your GPA. Start strong and your college life will be much less stressful.

Don’t Be Stupid

You will have a lot of opportunities to be stupid. One of my favorite memories was watching my friends shopping cart jousting in a school building. I once saw a friend free climb the math building. I can’t tell you how many friends were caught in the Halloween riot in 2004.

Have fun. Work hard. Watch your money. Learn what you can. And, most importantly, don’t be stupid.

SB’s Thoughts: You should try to spend as less as possible from your student loan, the quicker you repay your loan the early you will be debt free. Remember, today’s hardship is tomorrow’s comfort! There are various ways to cut cost on books, food and tuition while you are at college, weigh the tips and if applicable to you start following from day one.

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is a husband and working as a software professional for a Fortune 100 corporation in Florida. Thanks for visiting the blog.

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Comments

    • says

      I didn’t have a good budget in college, but I had an overall idea of what I needed to spend (not spend) to keep on track to have enough money for the entire school year before I went back to work for the summer.

  1. says

    My advice would be to plan as much as possible financially before you get there. This way you won’t be tempted to procrastinate on planning once things get “busy.” You’ll also be less likely to walk into costly mistakes early on, that take years of fixing.

    It doesn’t have to be a rigid plan, but I feel like the biggest problem with young adults these days is that college is seen as a way to put off the responsibility of becoming an adult. College should be fun and rigorous at the same time, but it’s an expensive way to put off the challenges inherent in becoming an adult.

    • says

      No harm in asking parents for some interest free loans. It won’t affect much on their retirement income and also put you in solid footing after college.

      • says

        That would certainly be the way to go! And a very good consideration for me as my wife and I have been trying to decide on how to handle college with our children.

        On one hand, we don’t want our kids to have large costs holding them back from a good education. On the other hand, we want them to be responsible about earning scholarships and taking over their own financial future when they are 18. Interest free loan could be the best of both worlds?

  2. says

    The Credit card law doesn’t fix stupidity, these days students can also fall into the trap of cosigning (senior students cosigning for freshmen). I think it might be better if students get a credit card AND get good training on how to use it before they leave home (provided the parents are good with credit cards in the first place).

    • says

      Absolutely agree Suba! In our college days we didn’t hear about the word ‘credit card’. now a days I have seen students paying at the counter by credit card. Good home education is a must.

  3. says

    Great post. I like your tip about not getting a credit card for pizza. That is so true. So many people get swayed by the marketing tactics of these companies that they become blind to the risks they are signing up for. Kids especially are vulnerable to this; who wouldn’t want free pizza in college.

  4. says

    I think it is also important to get the full benefit of everything you are paying for in college. If you are on a prepaid meal plan, don’t go out to eat. Take in all the free activities on campus rather than spending money on entertainment.

    • says

      great advice Dave. But I do think prepaid meal plans are costlier than cooking for self. But point noted, get full worth of money spent, no waste of food or money or time. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Lou Formica says

    Great post. I like your tip about not getting a credit card for pizza. I think it is also important to get the full benefit of everything you are paying for in college. keep posting..

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